Manx people should not pay BBC Licence Fee

In recent weeks there has been a developing campaign in Wales for a boycott of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Licence Fee. The work of the BBC is funded principally by an annual television licence fee costing £145.50 per year. At this time such a licence is required to legally receive broadcast television by all households across the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Non-payment of a licence fee results in a substantial fine and non payment of the fine can result in a jail sentence. The BBC sent around 51.8 million letters last year chasing evaders. These letters were followed with over 3 million visits by TV licence officers. Last year (2016) it has been reported that 185,000 people were either prosecuted or charged - 35 of them in the Isle of Man, not counting the 136 pending cases. Many believe the BBC licence fee is ’out-dated’, relies on criminal sanctions to force people to pay, and places an unfair burden on the poor.

However, the campaign now underway in Wales for a boycott of the Licence Fee has also rekindled calls for the scrapping of this tax as it is applied to the Isle Man. Many Manx people are puzzled why they should pay a licence fee to a foreign (United Kingdom) broadcaster given that the Island is not part of the United Kingdom. In answer to past enquiries by the Mannin Branch of The Celtic League it seems that as the UK Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1904 to 1926 were introduced long ago and at a different period in the Island’s history, it is not possible to determine how the provisions were extended to the Isle of Man. In which case the Manx government should inform the United Kingdom that agreements to collect broadcast licence fees on the Isle of Man are to be terminated.

If the Manx ditched the requirement to pay BBC licence fees the in excess of £4 million pounds currently exported to the UK could go into the Manx economy. Manx people are constantly being told of the need for austerity and are being charged more and more for basic services. Why then are they being burdened with this unnecessary tax? There would not be a disruption to TV services which would come in via overspill from UK transmitter sites. Many thousands of people on the European Continent and in Ireland receive UK TV services in this way without a thought of paying the UK a levy. It is also the case already that many people in the South and West of the Isle of Man, receive TV services from the Irish Republic without a thought about paying a licence fee to Dublin. Additionally it will not disrupt the availability of Freesat services which carry more channels than the current terrestrial transmitters. If there are individuals on the Island who want to continue to send the BBC money let them do so. That should be their choice but not one that they should impose on others.

There have now been calls by many for a boycott of the BBC Licence Fee on the Isle of Man, with some even suggesting more direct forms of action against those debt collectors who have been brought in to harass non-payers on the Island. However, this could all be avoided if the Manx government stopped its sycophantic approach to the UK and stood up for the ordinary Manx people it was elected to represent. It is clear that this issue needs to be raised by individuals with their MHK's (members of the Manx Parliament) and pressure applied for the Manx government to terminate any agreement to collect BBC Licence Fees on the Isle of Man.

This blog is provided for general informational purposes only. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone and not necessarily those of